Crisis and Resilience: Nordic Media Research on the Frontline

Globalisation, crisis and resilience have been recurrent themes in many media and communication conferences in recent years. In the most recent global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, media and communication have been at the forefront in many respect. All the Nordic states have, for example, decided to introduce or increase, existing public support for media and journalism, as an important part of the frontline defence against the pandemic.

The need for centralized and reliable information distribution is still relevant and vital to democratic societies. Early in the pandemic, there was an indication that the use of and trust in traditional media and journalism had increased. Does that mean that the much-discussed post-truth era and erosion of trust between audiences and journalistic media is less valid now than before or are these changes just glitches in exceptional times?

While the pandemic is global, responses to it have been predominantly on the national level. The significance of nation-states and their borders has suddenly re-emerged with force. The concepts of national and international seem highly relevant again, while global interconnectedness is facing challenges. Media culture plays an important role in how the trust and co-operation between peoples and nations develop. Are national media cultures able to mediate the kinds of global public discussions that support international co-operation, and build the kind of trust that is needed to legitimize global solutions? How will we manage this pandemic and other global challenges, such as climate policies, trade wars, migration and conflicts between states? Other issues of importance are for example increased surveillance and privacy threats; alternative facts and counter-discourses circulating online; how the pandemic has affected different media economically; – and closer to home – what do responses in the Nordic countries tell us about the Nordic model and the idea of the media welfare state?  

It remains to be seen, and for media scholars to study, which of the changes in the global and national media cultures will be just glitches in these exceptional times, and which will prove to be more permanent turns in trends. This crisis is also an important opportunity for media scholars to learn from it in order to strengthen the “global resilience”, and the role of different kinds of media in it.

The COVID-19 pandemic can also be seen as an opportunity for the academic community to talk about its own global resilience. Academics have previously emphasized “internationality” largely as the international competition of universities and individuals, and as publishing in English and travelling to conferences, but perhaps there is time to rethink and reassess international connections and co-operations. What parts of internationality and global co-operation proved resilient and useful in the pandemic situation and the near future? What more can we as Nordic media scholars demand of ourselves so that we will play our part in the hopefully more resilient societies? What are the questions that we need to ask next? We look forward to addressing these challenges at NordMedia 2021 in Reykjavík, Iceland.

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